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Title: Heating of the solar chromosphere in a sunspot light bridge by electric currents
Context. Resistive Ohmic dissipation has been suggested as a mechanism for heating the solar chromosphere, but few studies have established this association. Aims. We aim to determine how Ohmic dissipation by electric currents can heat the solar chromosphere. Methods. We combine high-resolution spectroscopic Ca  II data from the Dunn Solar Telescope and vector magnetic field observations from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) to investigate thermal enhancements in a sunspot light bridge. The photospheric magnetic field from HMI was extrapolated to the corona using a non-force-free field technique that provided the three-dimensional distribution of electric currents, while an inversion of the chromospheric Ca  II line with a local thermodynamic equilibrium and a nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium spectral archive delivered the temperature stratifications from the photosphere to the chromosphere. Results. We find that the light bridge is a site of strong electric currents, of about 0.3 A m −2 at the bottom boundary, which extend to about 0.7 Mm while decreasing monotonically with height. These currents produce a chromospheric temperature excess of about 600−800 K relative to the umbra. Only the light bridge, where relatively weak and highly inclined magnetic fields emerge over a duration of 13 h, shows a spatial coincidence more » of thermal enhancements and electric currents. The temperature enhancements and the Cowling heating are primarily confined to a height range of 0.4−0.7 Mm above the light bridge. The corresponding increase in internal energy of 200 J m −3 can be supplied by the heating in about 10 min. Conclusions. Our results provide direct evidence for currents heating the lower solar chromosphere through Ohmic dissipation. « less
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Award ID(s):
1655280 2020703
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Astronomy & Astrophysics
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

    Sunspot light bridges (LBs) exhibit a wide range of short-lived phenomena in the chromosphere and transition region. In contrast, we use here data from the Multi-Application Solar Telescope (MAST), the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS), Hinode, the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA), and the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) to analyze the sustained heating over days in an LB in a regular sunspot. Chromospheric temperatures were retrieved from the MAST Caiiand IRIS Mgiilines by nonlocal thermodynamic equilibrium inversions. Line widths, Doppler shifts, and intensities were derived from the IRIS lines using Gaussian fits. Coronal temperatures were estimated through the differential emission measure, while the coronal magnetic field was obtained from an extrapolation of the HMI vector field. At the photosphere, the LB exhibits a granular morphology with field strengths of about 400 G and no significant electric currents. The sunspot does not fragment, and the LB remains stable for several days. The chromospheric temperature, IRIS line intensities and widths, and AIA 171 and 211 Å intensities are all enhanced in the LB with temperatures from 8000 K to 2.5 MK. Photospheric plasma motions remain small, while the chromosphere and transition region indicate predominantly redshifts of 5–20 km s−1with occasional supersonicmore »downflows exceeding 100 km s−1. The excess thermal energy over the LB is about 3.2 × 1026erg and matches the radiative losses. It could be supplied by magnetic flux loss of the sunspot (7.5 × 1027erg), kinetic energy from the increase in the LB width (4 × 1028erg), or freefall of mass along the coronal loops (6.3 × 1026erg).

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  2. Aims. Our aim is to investigate the role of acoustic and magneto-acoustic waves in heating the solar chromosphere. Observations in strong chromospheric lines are analyzed by comparing the deposited acoustic-energy flux with the total integrated radiative losses. Methods. Quiet-Sun and weak-plage regions were observed in the Ca  II 854.2 nm and H α lines with the Fast Imaging Solar Spectrograph (FISS) at the 1.6-m Goode Solar Telescope on 2019 October 3 and in the H α and H β lines with the echelle spectrograph attached to the Vacuum Tower Telescope on 2018 December 11 and 2019 June 6. The deposited acoustic energy flux at frequencies up to 20 mHz was derived from Doppler velocities observed in line centers and wings. Radiative losses were computed by means of a set of scaled non-local thermodynamic equilibrium 1D hydrostatic semi-empirical models obtained by fitting synthetic to observed line profiles. Results. In the middle chromosphere ( h = 1000–1400 km), the radiative losses can be fully balanced by the deposited acoustic energy flux in a quiet-Sun region. In the upper chromosphere ( h  >  1400 km), the deposited acoustic flux is small compared to the radiative losses in quiet as well as in plagemore »regions. The crucial parameter determining the amount of deposited acoustic flux is the gas density at a given height. Conclusions. The acoustic energy flux is efficiently deposited in the middle chromosphere, where the density of gas is sufficiently high. About 90% of the available acoustic energy flux in the quiet-Sun region is deposited in these layers, and thus it is a major contributor to the radiative losses of the middle chromosphere. In the upper chromosphere, the deposited acoustic flux is too low, so that other heating mechanisms have to act to balance the radiative cooling.« less
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